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Hi! I’m Lucy. Chardonnay and vintage finds lover, founder of the handmade jewelry brand bel monili *and* your new guide to making your handmade business WORK online.
If you make seasonal products, you may wonder how you can bridge the gap to year round sales. Many sellers would like the stability of more consistent sales throughout the year.
However, every business has a cycle of busy seasons and slow times. For online sellers, points of the year like back-to-school time or just after New Year’s can make the most seasoned seller wonder what’s going on. But soon enough, the sales pick up and things start moving again.
If you make seasonal products, you may experience a larger and more pronounced gap.
Here are some ideas on how you can close that gap and bring in more sales consistently throughout the year.
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Specific products made for holidays or special occasions tend to sell very well, since they are perceived as available for a short period of time. For further reading, check out this article about the pros and cons of selling seasonal items.
If you make products that fit this description, don’t stop selling them! The trick is to figure out how you can modify or add on to your current seasonal collection.
Think about it – people don’t need much convincing that they need to purchase a knit hat in the winter. Valentine’s Day cards are going to fly off the shelf in February.
Having season-specific products is a great boost for your shop, and will bring you more customers over the years. I truly believe you’re ahead of the game if you already have these items.
Now it’s time to fill the holes with products that are more evergreen.
Let’s say you make embroidered christmas stockings, and you’re looking to branch out and grow your business. While a stocking may not work for other seasons, there are many other home decor items that can be embroidered for different holidays.
Think about cute heart-shaped pillows or cozy blankets for Valentine’s Day. Bunnies with cute embroidered t-shirts or Easter Basket liners are great for spring. While these are different items, you have the basic embroidery essentials to start creating a year round selection of products.
Another example might be knitwear. If you typically sell cold weather items, maybe you can start creating shopping sacs, warm weather tops for women, or lightweight baby blankets for those cooler summer days.
Almost any handmade product can be transformed in some way so that it fits a variety of seasons.
It’s also helpful to look at trends in your particular niche. Finding trends in handmade can help you brainstorm ways to adapt your products.
Take the time to make a list of seasons and how you can expand on what you’re already making. Ultimately, you will have a full collection of items in the same genre of product (embroidered gifts, jewelry, home decor, etc), that will be appropriate for different times of the year.
Sometimes we make what we want, and hope that other people will want to buy it. And that’s okay! Part of owning a business is being the boss and doing what makes you happy. Yay, #bossladylife !
But if you’re stuck on how to increase your product offering, think about how you can solve your customers’ problems with your creations.
The example about knitwear above can be applied here as well.
If you typically make hats, gloves, and scarves but want to get more sales in July, you can create another complimentary product line for your business.
Think about what people need in the warmer months. What problems can your items solve?
Maybe your customers are the types that enjoy going to farmers markets. They would appreciate a reusable knit bag to carry home their fresh produce.
If your customer is more of a fashionista, then knit vests and crop tops are all in style right now. You can offer them fresh designs that are unique and will make them feel special and beautiful.
Grandmas love to purchase knit items for new grandbabies, so think about using lightweight yarns to create summertime blankets and sweet little sweaters.
Many sellers think they have a purely seasonal product, but I bet almost anyone can find a complimentary product that would bridge the gaps!
We makers truly enjoy making our products. For many of us, we started with a love of creating. So what we make has a special place in our hearts.
But if you want to create a viable business that supports you throughout the whole year, you may need to be open to creating new things.
This isn’t to say you need to stop making the things you love! But if what you make is purely seasonal, then you may need to branch out to new things in order to gain the desired increase in sales.
Don’t be afraid to try something new! Many times our customers are extremely loyal, and will happily welcome new products from their favorite makers.
This is the moment where you might be afraid to fail. And I get that. We put a LOT of ourselves into the things we make. If they’re not received well, it can be a blow to our ego (and our wallet).
But there’s a positive side to this: it could be your new best seller! You could attract a whole group of new customers who absolutely love your newest creations.
Take the leap and know that if it doesn’t work out, you’ll learn valuable lessons that you can apply to the next new thing you make.
Once you have an idea of what you can make throughout the year, it’s time to plan!
It can be easy to get overwhelmed when you look at your list of new products. There are supplies to obtain, maybe new skills to learn, packaging and shipping considerations, and more.
I suggest working on one thing at a time, and schedule these tasks out. Start with one new product, make a plan to source your supplies. Take the time to make several prototypes so you get a sense of production time needs. Then decide on packaging and shipping, take photos and finally list it for sale.
Then start on the next new product and do the same thing. Breaking down your process into doable tasks will keep that overwhelm at bay.
As you start to expand your product line, tell your customers that you are offering new products that go beyond your seasonal collection.
The best way to do this is through an email list. Part of your online marketing strategy is to collect emails and send out a communication regularly to the people who have joined your list.
Keep your customers updated as you continue to bridge that gap between seasons. Remember to recognize how your new products can help solve their problems.
Start posting regularly on social media as well, and introduce new products as they become available.
The more you can post about the new products and educate your customers, the more inclined they will be to purchase from you.
Read more about social media marketing: What is a Content Calendar?
Making seasonal products certainly has its benefits. But if you’re ready to expand your business into a year round endeavor, you can certainly start if you make a plan. Your customers will love seeing new, beautiful products in your shop and you’ll be on your way to creating a business that will support you all year long.
Take a look at my Craft Business Kickstarter! It’s my course designed to help you go from a “hobby crafter” to real-deal creative business owner. I’ll give you the information you need to know exactly what steps to take, getting your business set up for purchasing supplies at wholesale, and becoming the savvy business owner you’re striving to be.
After running bel monili (my handmade jewelry business) for 10 years, I launched Bloom in 2019 to create a community where handmade business owners could learn, grow, and support each other in this wild venture of small business ownership. Welcome to Bloom!